Once he announces he’s going to run for president, however, all of the knives will come out, and Democratic rivals will start pushing negative stories about him to the media. We’ll see a lot more stories like the one that appeared in Monday’s Los Angeles Times, headlined, “The burden of a 40-year career: Some of Joe Biden’s record doesn’t age well.”
There is some lesson for this in Hillary Clinton’s experience in the public spotlight.
Dating back to Clinton’s first run for president, after receiving a brief spike in popularity after announcing her run in January 2007, she saw her popularity dip, until being named former President Obama’s first Secretary of State. In the role of the nation’s top diplomat, she spent most of the time traveling and playing the role of a mature stateswoman who remained above the fray. The major political problems of Obama’s first term — the Great Recession, the healthcare fight, the debt ceiling standoff — didn’t involve her. This caused her favorable rating to spike and remain elevated for several years, that is, until she left office and her intentions of running in 2016 became clear. Though her favorable rating went as high as 66 percent during the Obama administration, by August 2015, in the midst of a tougher than expected challenge against Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., it had tanked to 41 percent.